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The Saltwater Review - 11 May 1999

Vol. 13, No. 5
by Lewis S. Gillingham
OVERVIEW Chincoteague Wachapreague Cape Charles Onancock
Lower Bay/Bridge Tunnel Virginia Middle Bay Virginia Beach Virginia Piers Grandview
Buckroe Beach Harrison Lynnhaven Sandbridge Outer Banks, NC


The first segment of the Virginia's Trophy Striped Bass season comes to an end this Saturday, May 15. Beginning Sunday, May 16 and running through June 15, anglers may keep two striped bass within an 18 to 28-inch slot limit. New this season, one of the two-fish possession limit may include a striped bass of 32 inches or greater. Most important, anglers must report their Trophy catch (all 32-inch or greater fish caught and kept between 1 May and 15 June) on forms available at Citation Weigh Stations, many other tackle shops and marinas and from our homepage web site (see address above). A reporting form is also enclosed in this report.

The most delightful development last past week (aside from the pleasant weather) has been the strong showing of large weakfish at the CBBT, HRBT and M & M Bridge. Several of the trout met or exceeded the 9-pound qualifying Citation weight and a few topped 10 pounds! Other areas also recorded good-sized trout in the 3 to 7 pound range. Anglers are reminded that the 12-inch size limit and 4-fish possession limit is in effect from May 1 through August 15.

Several black drum were caught off Cape Charles and the seaside inlets the past week. Expect this fishery to peak (at these locations) in the next two weeks. Black drum were spotted at the Second Island of the CBBT but no catches were reported. The CBBT fishery usually peaks in early summer with some of the huge bottom feeders lingering into September.

Red drum have moved well up into the Bay, as several fish were boated off Onancock in the past week. The drum were caught both in shallow water, by anglers soaking peeler crab, and out in the channels, by anglers trolling.

Croaker are now biting consistently on both sides of the Bay. As was the case earlier in the season, the biggest croaker are generally found up in the tributaries or around the mouths of feeder creeks.

Flounder catches on the lower Bay (i.e. CBBT) have yet to rebound to the level enjoyed prior to last week's northeaster. However, flounder catches improved at several locations inside the Bay. On the seaside, several good-sized flatfish were boated (one was over 8 pounds) but overall action remains diminished from two weeks ago.


Donna from Capt. Bob's weighed the week's biggest flounder, a 28 3/4-inch, 8 3/4-pounder, for Harry Dove. The huge flatfish was boated at Four Mouths. Donna said a few taylor blues and pan trout are starting to show.

Tommy Daisey from Daisey's Dockside said flounder are being caught at scattered locations throughout the inside protected waters but suggested Four Mouths and the flats just above Queen's Sound as the top locations. Several keeper flounder were decked on the shop's pier last week, where a few snapper blues are also beginning to provide good sport.

Barnacle Bill's said Captain Dave Seaman returned with a nice catch of flounder but the shop was unclear as to where the flatfish were boated. Captain Mike Toff took his party to one of the nearby inshore ocean wrecks and had a big catch of large sea bass plus a few tautog.


Wachapreague Marina reported good numbers of flounder are being caught at Green and Drawing channels but an increasing proportion of the flatfish are under the 16-inch minimum size limit. The marina also received reports from the bayside that sizable speckled trout were hitting chunks of peeler crab.

Capt. Zed's said some anglers boated limit catches of weakfish over the weekend. These fish seem to be holding in the deeper holes. As for flounder, the best action is on the flats and along the channel edges. The shop spokesman suggested Burtons Bay as one of the more productive areas.

Cape Charles-

Chris' Bait and Tackle reported limit catches of flounder were registered over the weekend out of the seaside port of Oyster, where several black drum were also boated. Red drum appeared on the Smith Island flats while grey trout to 5 pounds were caught at the High Rise section of the CBBT. At the Cabbage Patch, black drum failed to appear in any numbers but the fish's lack of cooperation was partly blamed on the "over-abundance" of bait stealing croaker.

Captain Jim Jenrette heard of a lone black drum boated off Cape Charles but added that very few anglers were fishing for the huge bottom feeders. Tautog, croaker and to a lesser degree pan trout and flounder were biting near the "old" C-10 buoy site. On a wreck just off Smith Island, Jenrette found sea bass to 4 1/2 pounds plentiful in the 54 degree water.


Captain Wil Laaksonen reported good weather and great fishing over the weekend. Schools of red drum arrived off Saxis Island and several were boated. Bottom fishermen using fresh peeler crab are loading up on croaker and easily taking a 4-fish limit of pan trout. Some flounder are showing in deep water and a few speckled trout are being caught along the grassy shorelines. Striped bass are showing in the creeks but most of these fish measure less than 18 inches.

Lower Bay/Bridge Tunnel-

Cobbs Marina weighed two citation-sized fish over the weekend. The first was a 6-pound flounder that was boated at MP 8 by Sheri Wharm. The second was a 9-3 tog, also landed at the CBBT, by Tyler Blythe.

Dimitri at Bubba's Marina described the grey trout action at the CBBT complex as "unbelievable." Many of the best hauls are made at the rock islands just after dusk, where some of the trout top 9 pounds. Striped bass are available in decent numbers but very few meet the current minimum size limit of 32 inches. Tautog continue to provide good sport for those anglers bottom bouncing with cut crab around the rocks. Flounder action was rated only "so-so" along the CBBT but large flounder were caught "right in the inlet, according to Dimitri.

Dr. Jim Wright said anglers using small, live mullet were catching puppy drum, speckled trout and flounder just inside Lynnhaven Inlet. Black drum have been spotted at the Second Island, where casters using light jigs caught weakfish to 8 pounds. Trophy-sized striped bass (32 inches or greater) remain scarce along the CBBT complex, where the average-sized flounder has dropped following last week's northeaster. Dr. Jims final comment was that big sea bass have arrived inshore, as fish to over 3 pounds were pulled from the Tower Reef over the weekend.

Donnie Wallace from Wallace's Bait and Tackle checked-in a pair of 6 3/4 pound flounder over the weekend. Robby Specketer boated his at the mouth of Back River while Byran Hannaman decked his citation winner at the Fourth Island. Both flatfish hit a squid and live minnow combination. Donnie added that speckled trout moved into Poquoson Flats, as Sam Skinner boated a 10-fish limit and Dennis Cozzens caught trout to 4 1/4 pounds.

Johnny from Sunset Marina said bottom fishermen caught 1to 1 1/2 pound croaker at the mouth of the harbor early in week, "when it was too rough to fish anywhere else." By Saturday, some boats were able to travel to the CBBT, where the best report was for tog at the Second Island. Sunday, light winds prevailed and many anglers chose to drift for flounder but Johnny rated catches as just "so-so," saying many anglers "were not happy when they came in," as the flounder bite failed to rebound.

Alan Vanasse from Vanasse Bait and Tackle said weekend anglers reported decent catches of flounder at Fort Monroe, off Factory Point and along the CBBT. Weakfish of nearly 7 pounds were caught in the Fort Monroe area while bottom fishermen "loaded-up" on large croaker on the lower James.

Andy Watkins from Back River Market weighed a pair of citation speckled trout that were caught on Poquoson Flats over the weekend. Speckled trout were caught both by casters and bait fishermen but the biggest trout were fooled with fresh peeler crab. Big flounder are moving along the shallow shorelines, as several doormat-sized flounder found their way into one of the peeler pounds that dot the Back River shoreline. Andy added that good mixed catches of flounder and pan trout were made at the mouth of Back River while the Poquoson River produced the better catches of croaker.

Salt Ponds lone report came from Dr. Robert Allen, whose party returned from a wreckfishing excursion with a nice catch of tautog.

Jimmy Lewis from A & S Feed and Bait Supply said good-sized speckled trout and puppy drum to 9 pounds are hitting at the mouth of the Ware River while big croaker dominate the action in the York River. Big croaker and fair numbers of flounder are being caught from the Gloucester Point Pier. The upper reaches of the river is where the biggest croaker are being caught plus a few pan trout have begun to show.

Virginia Middle Bay-

Roger Wilkins from Jetts Hardware reported trollers caught plenty of stripers "30 inches or less" and only a handful of legal, 32-inch fish at buoy 62. Bottom fishermen working the same area had good hauls of 1 to 1 1/2 pound croaker. Bluefish, blowfish and pan trout are showing in the local pound nets but no rod and reel catches have been reported.

Dan from Smith Point Marina said striped bass measuring up to 38 inches made a fair showing at buoy 62 and the waters surrounding Smith Point Light over weekend. Trollers working in 50 to 60 feet of water reported the best success. In side the Potomac River, croaker are being pulled from shallow water with some of the best action located at the mouths of the feeder creeks. Flounder have arrived at the Smith Point Jetty.

Jerry Thrash from Queen's Creek Reel and Downrigger Service said the shallows of the Rappahannock River are holding hordes of 1-pound plus croaker. Peeler crab is becoming more available and is the favored bait. Flounder made a decent showing at Hole-in-the-Wall while anglers drifting the Cell and buoy 42 area for flatfish had long waits between strikes.

Jim Thompson from Locklies Marina said bottom fishermen are catching mostly croaker plus some spot and pan trout. Best action has been from Parrots Island to the White Stone side of the river with the biggest croaker taken after dark. Reports on flounder from the lower Rappahannock and the Cell were not encouraging.

Valerie Prince at Garretts Marina said croaker were "all over the place" and the fish average "at least a pound." Spot are also beginning to show in the catches.

Virginia Beach-

Headboats sailing from the Virginia Beach Fishing Center continue to target sea bass and tautog with good results. More and larger sea bass are showing in the catches. None of the charter fleet has run a bluewater trip yet this spring but weather permitting, it could happen this coming weekend. Inside the inlet, puppy drum, croaker and spot provide decent bottom fishing action.

Paula Owen from Fisherman's Wharf Marina described tog fishing as "OK but not like it was a month ago." Still Rick Phipps fishing alone aboard the ALREADY GONE had a decent catch of tog plus several large sea bass. Phillps four heaviest tog went 12-9, 13-13, 14-9 and 16-4! Scheduled bluewater trips were cancelled last week--so no word of tuna, dolphin or even big bluefish. Paula added that a school of large grey trout moved into the inlet mid-week, providing outstanding action for those lucky anglers on hand.

Virginia Piers-

James River- The strong run of croaker continued last week with most of the fish ranging in size from 1 to 3 pounds. Bottom fishermen are also catching a few spot, flounder and pan trout. No word on any striped bass.

Grandview- Bottom fishermen are enjoying a mixed bag of croaker, flounder, spot, trout and a few puppy drum. Some of the best hauls are made during the late evening tide.

Buckroe Beach- Flounder highlight the daytime action with croaker, trout and even a few spot coming on after dark.

Harrison- Flounder provide the best daytime action but once the pier lights come on in the evening the croaker and pan trout fishing has been phenomenal, according to Charlie at the pier house. The croaker average "better than a pound" with some individuals topping two pounds. Four-fish limits of pan trout are quickly jigged-up beneath the lights. The trout range in size from 12 inches (current minimum size) up to about three pounds. Small numbers of pan-sized spot are beginning to show.

Lynnhaven- Overall action was slow the past week with only sporadic catches of flounder, bluefish and trout. This situation will likely change by the weekend, as the pier goes to a 24-hour schedule and the pier lights begin attracting croaker and trout within casting distance.

Virginia Beach- Fishing was slow over the weekend but a 3-foot long sturgeon provided some excitement (the fish was quickly released). Monday, catches improved somewhat with a scattering of blowfish, sea mullet, bluefish and trout. Water temperature at the pier have fluctuated widely but it was a relatively mild 62 degrees on Monday.

Sandbridge - Taylor blues and trout provided decent sport the past several days. The occasional "keeper" flounder was also reported.

Outer Banks, NC-

Speckled trout and taylor blues were caught from the Outer Banks surf and piers the past week. As always, the best action has been at dawn and dusk but some fish are being caught throughout the day, when a few spot and sea mullet are also being reported. Small blues and puppy drum were reported from the north side of Oregon Inlet while sporadic catches of puppy drum, snapper blues, sea mullet and croaker were made between Rodanthe and Avon. A scattering of chopper blues were beached at Cape Point, where big red drum appear briefly at times.

In the sound, Duck Island, the grassy edges on the southend of Roanoke Island and the Little Bridge are producing nice catches of speckled trout and puppy drum, according to the folks at Whalebone Tackle. Striped bass are available around the pilings of most soundside bridges but the season has closed and this is "catch and release" only.

Offshore, the bluewater fleets sailing from Oregon and Hatteras inlets reported excellent catches of yellowfin tuna the past week. Several bigeye tuna to 122 pounds were brought into the Oregon Inlet Fishing Center, where the REBAIT weighed a 562 pound blue marlin. Many of the better hauls of yellowfin tuna made by the Oregon Inlet fleet came from south of the Point near the 40500 line. Out of Hatteras, the Hatteras Village Offshore Open was won by FREQUENT FLYER with 5 blue marlin releases. On Friday, May 7, the Hatteras fleet tallied 16 blue marlin and one white marlin. The weekend saw good catches of gaffer dolphin, yellowfin and wahoo plus a scattering of king mackerel. Best action was in the vicinity of the Rockplie. On Monday, both the SKIRT CHASER and ENTICER returned to the dock with limit catches of yellowfin tuna from the 230 rocks. The same day the BIG EASY released a blue marlin after a 4 hour battle.

If you have additional information or would like further details contact Lewis Gillingham at (757) 247-2243.

Please credit the Virginia Marine Resources Commission's THE SALTWATER REVIEW as the source of the fishing information.

Click on Newsletter link to get to the index of previous Saltwater Reviews

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